The TOP TEN from TomatoFest!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Gary Ibsen of TomatoFest fame recently sent this news release to Farmer Fred Hoffman, and I wanted to make sure you were informed of the growing popularity of certain types of Heirloom Tomatoes:

Announcing "Top 10" Heirloom Tomatoes for 2009
"Black" Tomatoes Still Reign with the Best of the Reds and Pinks
Bi-Colored and Cherry Tomatoes Also Growing In Popularity

Carmel, Calif. – January 25, 2009 – TomatoFest® Garden Seeds today announced that "black" tomatoes again rank high in the "Top 10" list of favorite heirloom tomatoes going into 2009. The "Top 10" favorite heirloom tomatoes are:

Brandywine (pink)
Paul Robeson (purple/black)
Aussie (red)
Julia Child (pink)
Cherokee Purple (purple/black)
Black Cherry (purple/black)
Kellogg's Breakfast (orange)
Gold Medal (yellow/red striped)
Aunt Ginny's Purple (purple/black)
Carmello (red)

"Black" tomatoes were more popular in 2008 than in any prior year," said Gary Ibsen, grower of 600 varieties of certified organic, heirloom tomatoes in California, and founder of TomatoFest® Garden Seeds, the most prominent internet retailer of organic heirloom tomato seeds.

"The purple/black colored heirloom tomatoes continue to rise in popularity at produce markets, with restaurant chefs, and with home gardeners for the 6th year in a row," "Black" tomatoes are fast becoming as popular as many of the best tasting pink and red tomatoes."

"Black" tomatoes are not really black," remarked Ibsen. "They cover a range of dark colors, including deep purple, dusky deep brown, smoky mahogany with dark green shoulders, and bluish-brown. The depth of colors seems to be encouraged by a higher acid and mineral content in the soil."

"Black" tomatoes are native to Southern Ukraine during the early 19th century. They originally existed in only a small region of the Crimean Peninsula. Soon they were showing up as new varieties in many shapes and sizes and began to appear throughout the territories of the former Soviet Union. Then they began turning up in the former Yugoslavia, Germany and the United States.

"A survey of our tomato seed sales to home gardeners and commercial tomato farmers, along with a review of our sales of fresh heirloom tomatoes to retailers and restaurants, demonstrate soundly that consumers have discovered the superior and complex flavors of the "black" heirloom tomatoes, and are selecting these bold colors along with their mix of favorite red, pink, orange and bi-colored tomatoes," said Ibsen.

Also showing a rise in popularity in 2008 with a greater presence in produce markets, are sweeter tasting bi-colored tomatoes, and a wider selection of different colored cherry tomatoes.

Photos and descriptions of all the above listed tomato varieties can be found at TomatoFest.

Bill's Note: Venus and I have grown four of the varieties listed in Ibsen's TOP TEN, and loved each and every one of them. Some heirloom afficianados go so far as to claim that Kellogg's Breakfast is the best tasting heirloom tomato, bar none, and they have a pretty good argument.

I ordered several different varieties from TomatoFest this year, and I have high hopes for a unique variety called "Clint Eastwood's Rowdy Red." Time will tell with this new heirloom tomato entry into our backyard North Natomas garden. Some growers have reported amazing success with it, others have not.

And that's the trial and tribulation, so to speak, of growing heirloom tomatoes.


Prudy said...

Love the new playlist, Bill! Those tomatoes all sound wonderful! I sure like the sound of that Rowdy Red. Who wouldn't want to grow a Clint Eastwood tomato?

Bill Bird said...

Prudy is my blog inspiration if you didn't know.

I grow the tomatoes. She makes great recipes for them.